Illawarra Greens. Social justice, environmental sustainability, peace and non-violence and grassroots democracy.

Let’s extend our winter sports season and plan for more wet weather: Greens

Greens Councillor Mithra Cox has submitted a Notice of Motion calling on Council to extend the winter sport season, in the wake of extensive disruptions to the 2024 season due to extreme and ongoing wet weather.

Cr Cox is also calling for a long-term climate adaptation plan for community sport to deal with heatwaves and droughts as well as extreme rainfall.

“This is the second season in three years to have severely restricted community sports through ongoing wet weather,” Cr Cox said.

“Many teams have played less than five games since April, with more games being cancelled than have been played. This is incredibly frustrating, especially for the hundreds of new football players who have registered off the back of the Matilda’s success at the World Cup. To keep those players engaged, we need a way to ensure they can actually play.

“While some solutions will need time and money and planning, there are some quick fixes that could be employed to extend the season this year.

“With the simple addition of line markings and temporary goals, some unused fields could be freed up to enable the season to overlap with the cricket season, or we could work with schools to access some of their grounds,” Cr Cox said.

Jess Whittaker, Greens candidate for Lord Mayor and Ward 1 said: “We are already seeing climate impacts significantly impacting community sport, and we know that these impacts are only forecast to get worse.

“It’s important to start planning now so that our community members of all ages can continue to play sport in the summer or winter seasons. Facilities like all weather multi-use sports venues are big and expensive and take many years to fund, so the work needs to start now if we are to have these sports-grounds in the future.

“There are many things we can do to protect against extreme heat and extreme rainfall, like planting shade, improving drainage and having a smaller number of indoor all-weather venues. But these things won’t happen overnight,” Ms Whittaker said. “We need to start planning now.”




Notice of Motion - climate adaptation plan for community sport

I move that Council develops a climate mitigation plan for community sport, including:

1. In the short term (for the 2024 season), works with sports associations to extend the winter outdoor sport season for codes that have been significantly affected by ongoing wet weather. This could include, but is not limited to:
A) Freeing up additional football pitches on a temporary basis to enable the season to extend into an overlap with the cricket season. There are some locations that could be made playable with the simple addition of line marking and temporary goals, like Roy Johanson Park in Figtree or Nicholson Park in Woonona;
B) Contacting the Department of Education to request that some of their sporting fields be made available to extend the winter sport season.
In the longer term, developing an additional chapter of the Sportsgrounds and
Sporting Facilities Strategy that deals specifically with climate adaptations for community sport. This could include but is not limited to:

1. A longer term plan for drainage, irrigation and shade at sporting grounds;

2. Considering planning for one or more indoor multi use sporting facilities that could be used for a range of sports in times of ongoing wet weather or extreme heat. This facility would need to be bookable by a range of clubs and teams, and under the control of council, not licenced to a single club to ensure equity of access;

3. Considering the need for shade at sporting grounds;

4. Working with other government agencies on facilities sharing plans, to enable community access to school halls, university and TAFE facilities or state government owned facilities like the Wollongong Entertainment Centre.



The 2024 outdoor winter sport season has been severely interrupted by ongoing and extreme wet weather: many teams have played only 4 games since April. This is the second season in three years to have had more than half the games in a season cancelled, and we know that climate change will only exacerbate these changes in weather, and intensify extreme weather events.

According to the Bureau of Meteorology, for every degree Celsius that Earth's atmospheric temperature rises, the amount of water vapour in the atmosphere can increase by about 7%. This is particularly true for Wollongong, because the water from an unusually warm ocean is trapped by the escarpment behind the city.

We know that increased and extreme rainfall is not the only impact of climate change that Wollongong is already experiencing. Extended periods of drought and heatwave will also have an increasing impact on community sport, with heatwaves in the summer months expected to increase in severity and duration. Playing sport in extreme heat is not safe for the human body, and so we need to plan now for these future impacts, so that our community can continue to play sport now and into the future.